McAfee, Symantec Cough Up $750,000 in Penalties

by CXOtoday Staff    Jun 11, 2009

Security majors McAfee and Symantec, have been fined $750,000 in penalties and cost after it was discovered that they provided automatic subscription renewals and charged customer credit cards without their consent.

US Attorney General Andrew Cumo yesterday announced the settlement with Symantec and McAfee, after the companies agreed to reform practices, make detailed disclosures to consumers about subscription terms and renewal, and cough up the $750,000 fine.

"Companies cannot play hide the ball when it comes to the fees consumers are being charged. Consumers have a right to know what they are paying, especially when they are unwittingly agreeing to renewal fees that will not appear on their credit card bill for months. Symantec and McAfee - two of the nation s largest vendors of computer security software - will now have to be clear and up-front with their customers when it comes to renewal fees. In other words, no more hide the ball with renewal fees," said Cumo in a press statement.

According to the Attorney General s office, the companies did not disclose to consumers that subscriptions would be automatically renewed and that consumers would be charged for subsequent subscriptions. Information about automatic renewal charges was not clearly disclosed, but was instead hidden at the bottom of long webpages or in the fine print of license agreements.

In addition, the investigation also revealed that both Symantec and McAfee made it difficult for consumers to contact the companies to opt out of automatic renewal or to request refunds for unauthorized credit card charges.

Under the settlement, Symantec and McAfee will clearly disclose to consumers any automatic renewal program and provide a transparent and automated means to opt out of renewal. The companies will provide electronic notification to consumers before and after renewal of the subscription and will provide refunds to consumers who request them within 60 days of being charged. The companies will clearly disclose the length of time that they will continue to support and provide updates to any purchased software.

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